Top Energy Drinks For Workouts (And Related Facts)

To achieve our desired fitness goals, we must be consistent. However, some gym days may feel dragging and tiring. It may take a lot of effort to get to work out, especially after a long day. 

This is why energy drinks are a definite godsend. Energy drinks give us the boost we need to power through these lazy days and stay consistent with our exercise.

A Table of Assorted Cans of Energy Drinks
Which Energy drink is the best for your workout session?

There are numerous energy drinks available in the market. But which one is best for your workout? What are the factors you should consider in choosing energy drinks?

Personally, I’ve found the energy drinks CELSIUS, Bang, and Monster Ultra Zero to be the drinks that help me most when it comes to working out. They have enough caffeine in them to keep me going and they’re all sugar-free with barely any calories.

To know more, keep reading.

Things to Look for in Buying Energy Drink

Caffeine Content

Caffeine content
Caffeine content

Caffeine is an amazing energy-boosting ingredient, and it is considered to be the most important for your gym workout.

On a side note, there’s a thing called resting energy expenditure (REE). It refers to the rate of calories you burn when the workout is over, and you are at rest. It is responsible for about 60% to 75% of the calories we burn every day. Any increase in REE is essential throughout your weight loss journey.

Basketball game
Sports also work great for burning calories

Research done by the Wiley Online Library compared the REE of those who consumed caffeine vs. those who did not. Their findings include that caffeine drinkers had an increase in REE compared to the control group! 

This study shows that caffeine is significant and correlated to our body’s REE. A similar study proves that caffeine alone is not sufficient to burn fats. Despite the increase in REE, some energy drink brands market their energy drinks as enough for you to get shredded. This is not factual. 

Whether you want to lose weight or not, caffeine is an important ingredient to stay alert and awake through your daily activities as long as you consume it moderately. We all love caffeine, and it is one of the most popular ingredients in the whole world.

During my workout, it’s usually the last set I’m too tired to do. It’s either I do the exercise lightly or not at all. The right amount of caffeine can make the difference in getting it done. 

I say the right amount because overconsumption of caffeine can also be counter-productive. Studies show that too much caffeine is associated with various health risks such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Fatigue

Caffeine can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing so it’s important not to go beyond the 400mg daily limit set by the FDA. 

Hope this doesn’t scare you because in general, as long as you consume caffeine moderately, studies prove that caffeine has a positive effect on our minds when combined with exercise. Working out helps our mind release endorphins and regulate our stress levels. All the more reasons we should consume caffeine and workout regularly.

In my opinion, the perfect amount of caffeine is 50 mg to 100 mg per serving. Any more than that gives me hot flushes and can sometimes makes me feel jittery. 

Sugar

Sugar is also one of the most prominent (and potentially harmful) ingredients in your energy drinks search.

Sugar is an amazing ingredient we all love. Whether you’re a fan of sugar or not, we all crave it every now and then. 

In terms of energy drinks though, we should always go for the ones with the least sugar content or the ones that are completely sugar-free. If you are looking for the best energy drink that will complement your workout, sugar-free is surely the smartest choice.

Besides additional calories, sugar poses various health risks such as:

  1. Weight gain
  2. Heart disease
  3. Acne
  4. Diabetes
  5. Cancer
  6. Depression

These potential risks associated with sugar are the reason why the American Heart Association (AHA) only recommends only 25g of sugar for women and 36g for men. Fortunately, there are lots of sugar-free energy drinks available! 

It’s also been found that overconsumption of sugar leads to our energy levels crashing. The scientific term for sugar crashing is hypoglycemia.

It happens when our body produces excess insulin (from sugar) that then decreases our glucose levels. Insulin is a type of hormone in charge of breaking down carbohydrates, fat, and protein while glucose is our body’s main source of energy.

If you want to know what I think are the best sugar-free energy drinks on the market, here’s an article you can read when you’re done with this one.

Other Ingredients

Whenever you check for energy drinks good for your workout, it’s important to check for the special ingredients such as artificial sugars, natural ingredients, or other energy-boosting ingredients included in the drinks. 

The most common ingredients of energy drinks are caffeine, sugar, guarana, taurine, and B vitamins. 

Other brands may include ingredients that may cause allergic reactions or something that won’t be beneficial for your workout. If you are trying to bulk up and gain muscles, you wouldn’t want one that will prefer weight loss right? Energy drinks with special ingredients, especially natural ingredients, are usually priced at a more expensive price point.

However, I do advise you to be careful since most of the time, these special ingredients are only present in small quantities. It is, therefore, crucial to check the label and ensure that all ingredients complement your lifestyle. 

The American Beverage Association or ABA set guidelines for energy drink consumers to understand what they are consuming. It is compulsory for beverage companies to include all ingredients and nutritional facts in their bottles and cans.

Price

The average price of an energy drink is usually around $2 to $4. 

Like anything else in life, an expensive price tag does not necessarily mean that the quality is better. Some energy drinks may be priced expensive without many nutritional benefits or special ingredients.

Personally, I prefer high-quality energy drinks that are sugar and calorie-free. Some energy drinks may cost more than $4 because of special or natural ingredients.

Sometimes, buying in bulk will save you a few cents to a dollar. When you find great bulked deals of a brand you like, it’s often a better choice since you get to save gas money from constantly driving to the nearest grocery or convenience store.

There also are great deals with huge discounts too from time to time at different sites, you just need to know when and where to find them.

Are Energy Drinks Good Before Working Out?

If you need a little kick in your body before your work out then yes, energy drinks are good before working out. But I must advise you to have water by your side while doing your workout as you really can’t beat water when it comes to hydrating yourself in general.

Woman running - working out
Running as part of the workout routine

Drinking energy drinks before a workout is a good idea especially if you badly need that energy kick.

Research shows the correlation between energy drinks and good exercise performance. Caffeine included in energy drinks is found to effectively optimize and improve physical performance. In addition, energy drinks are also found to be good in:

  • increasing muscular strength, endurance, and power
  • improve sprinting, jumping, and throwing performance
  • sparing glycogen stores and utilizing fat as the main fuel source
  • help in cognitive functions (focus and alertness)

Another study published in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that those who consumed supplements that include caffeine, taurine, and other ingredients a few minutes before exercising were able to complete more sets and reps. 

As long as caffeine is consumed moderately, you will be able to reap its benefits. Just keep in mind that the FDA recommendation is only 400mg per day. Always read the label of the energy drink to ensure safety.

Some energy drinks may contain heaps of sugar and some may even go beyond the daily sugar limit. The sugar limit is merely a recommendation and people totally go beyond their daily limit. Despite the average amount of 24 – 36g of sugar daily, Americans consume a whopping average of 71g of sugar daily. 

I am not saying it’s fine to go beyond the daily intake. I’m just saying it happens at times but we must still always be mindful since sugar is linked with various health concerns. 

Do Energy Drinks Help You Workout?

Energy drinks can help you work out as studies have found that the caffeine in them can give you the boost you need to push through your sets and rep, sometimes even improving your overall exercise performance.

Besides energy, energy drinks may also boost the cognitive functions that will help you focus and stay alert throughout your training. 

Men working out

According to Harvard, caffeine, taurine, as well as vitamin B are the ingredients responsible for the energy boost we get from these drinks.

However, according to their study, these ingredients could also pose great health risks so it’s best to consume these drinks moderately. 

Can I Drink Red Bull Before the Gym?

Red Bull is a great energy drink option to drink before your work out. Red Bull’s active energy ingredient is caffeine and caffeine is an ingredient proven to increase athletic performance.

Here’s a video if you want to learn more:

However, if you’re not comfortable with Red Bull or any other energy drink and prefer a more natural energy boost, you can try these homemade pre-workout recipes:

  • Iced Tea 
  • Coconut Water 
  • Green Mango Drink
  • Banana Smoothie 
  • Spinach, Pineapple, and Apple

Pre-workouts vs. Energy Drinks

Are Pre-Workouts Better?

The answer to this question depends on your personal fitness goals. The difference between energy drinks and pre-workout supplements can be a little confusing. 

In general, a pre-workout supplement is any supplement that’s made to give you power through your physical activities – workouts, sports events, competitions, etc. It should supply your body with enough sugar, caffeine, and ingredients to give you the energy boost you need to power through.

As you can see, energy drinks can be considered as pre-workout supplements since it fits these criteria. However, most pre-workout supplements are known to contain a lot more caffeine than energy drinks.

If you are looking for a pre-workout boost to complement your fitness goals such as muscle mass building, or as a fat burner, energy drinks may not do the trick. The tricky part about selecting energy drinks is that the special ingredients included are usually available in small quantities. 

Pre-workout supplements in powdered form are usually the ones that will help you achieve your goals in the gym.

But if you are simply looking for something stronger than coffee to give you energy for an extra set, energy drinks are more than enough!

Using Pre-Workout Supplements as Energy Drinks

I do not recommend you do this.

As I’ve mentioned some pre-workout supplements contain more caffeine than energy drinks and caffeine poses various risks to our health. Some even go beyond 500mg. 

While pre-workouts are great to boost your exercise performance, they may come with several side effects like experiencing jitters, 

Best Energy Drinks for Workout

All that said and done, here’s what I think are the best workout energy drinks on the market based on their caffeine and sugar content, and calories.

BrandCaffeine Content (mg) Sugar Content (g) Calories 
CELSIUS 200010
Bang 30000
Monster Ultra Zero16000
Best energy drinks before working out

CELSIUS

CELSIUS Energy Drink.
A can of Celsius Energy

Celsius with 200mg of caffeine per 16 fl. oz can is a great workout drink. It also complements your fitness lifestyle since it’s sugar-free with only 10 calories. 

My main issue with Celsius is that it doesn’t have any special ingredients. 200 mg of caffeine is also a bit too much for me. This is similar to a Grande Starbucks Drink (210 mg). If you have a high tolerance and preference for caffeine, then Celsius is a great energy drink for you to try.

I’ve made a review on CELSIUS if you’re interested to see how it works.

Bang

Bang Blue Razz
Bang Energy, for when you really need the caffeine

Bang is another popular choice of energy drink for most fitness enthusiasts.

With 300mg of caffeine and zero calories, this is a great energy drink that’s close to a pre-workout. Although 300 mg of caffeine is way too much for me, if you are out to have a high-intensity workout or doing a marathon, Bang is a great choice of drink for you.

For more information on Bang and how well it may work for you, do check out the Bang Review article I’ve written to see if it’s definitely got the bang for your buck.

Monster Ultra Zero

Compared to both Bang and Celsius, Monster Zero has a little less caffeine. 

Monster Energy Drink
Monster Energy Zero Ultra

If you prefer drinks with lower caffeine content (like me), Monster Zero is a great choice.

At zero sugar and zero calories, Monster Zero shouldn’t really affect your overall calorie intake, and with a lower caffeine content compared to the other two options above (160mg per 16 fl. oz), Monster Zero is definitely for those who don’t want to be too caffeinated during their workouts.

Final Thoughts

All in all, caffeinated energy drinks could definitely be a welcome (if not really necessary) addition to your workout routine.

They can definitely provide you with a boost, and if you need a little extra to get you through those roughs reps, then you can’t go wrong with some additional caffeine in you.

Generally, the best energy drinks for workouts are those that have a decent amount of caffeine while being low on sugar and/or calories. While calories are necessary to give you energy, it’s far better to get them from healthier, more nutritious sources like an actual meal.

That being said, do be aware that energy drinks don’t exactly hydrate your body as well as water, so be sure to have a bottle of water handy so you can cleanse your palate after the energy drink.

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About Adrian Carter

Adrian writes about energy drinks and their ingredients to shine a light on the facts behind the brand names.

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